Holy Names University Breaks Barriers Blocking Urban Students from College

News Release

Media contact:
Lesley Sims, Holy Names University, 510-436-1405 or sims@hnu.edu

Holy Names University Breaks Barriers
Blocking Urban Students from College

OAKLAND, California; June 07, 2011 – Starting this fall Holy Names University (HNU) will guarantee that freshmen high school students (ninth graders) who meet certain conditions and graduate from high school, are already accepted as college freshmen at HNU with a scholarship. Participating high school freshmen will be from the Oakland Unified School District, the West Contra Costa School District and partner schools within the Oakland Catholic Archdiocese.

The HNU “Early Admit Program (EAP)” stipulates that if students take and pass a prescribed list of high school courses, maintain a minimum of a 2.7 grade-point-average (GPA), take advantage of pre-collegiate counseling, and graduate from high school, then they can choose to enter HNU as college students with a minimum scholarship of $9,000. These students will not have to take national standardized tests such as the ACT or SAT.

The President of Holy Names University, Dr. William J. Hynes explains, “We want to eliminate three significant barriers between urban students and their ability to go to college. The first and most inhibiting barrier is the perception that they cannot ever get into college. Second, we wish to mitigate the economic barrier that can block them from going to college by offering a guaranteed scholarship and eliminating the cost and time of the national tests which many educators think are biased against urban students.” Hynes continues, “Because Holy Names University has been breaking down such barriers in Oakland since 1868 – first for women, then for men, and now for a very diverse student body – we have some experience in these matters. That is why half of our students are the first generation in their families to go to college, and why Holy Names consistently rates among the top five small universities in the West for diversity.”

This past fall, the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland, serving Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and the CEOs for Cities sponsored a conference that sought concrete ways to raise the graduation rate for all schools in the area by one percent. This alone would add some $20 billion to the local economy. The Foundation’s President and CEO, Nicole Taylor, said, “This HNU program opens a new door for youth in our urban centers to get a college education and gain the increased economic opportunity that goes along with it. We think it’s going to be a game changer.”

Brian O’Rourke, Dean of Admissions and Recruitment at HNU, stated, “How do we change this perception about one’s ability to go to college? We aren’t saying ‘Do this and you will be eligible to apply to college.’ We’re saying, ‘You’re already accepted into a college, now hold up your end of the bargain to stay there! This is yours to lose!’ Because HNU is using the same pre-collegiate list of high school courses that are recommended by the University of California and State University of California systems, as well as many private institutions of higher learning, these successful high school students will also be very attractive prospects to many other schools besides Holy Names.”

O’Rourke adds, “Students who are especially successful in high school, as reflected in a higher GPA or other honors and who demonstrate particular financial need will likely qualify for additional HNU financial aid. Unlike student loans, this financial aid does not have to be paid back. We ask only that students pay us back by helping others to pursue a college education and by making a personal commitment to serve the needs of the community.”

As part of the EAP program, participating high schools’ college and career centers will partner initially with similar HNU counseling efforts to provide college preparatory programming as well as mentoring and tutoring programs. Beginning in the 12th grade, counseling assistance will also be provided for career planning, college searching, and the financial aid application process.

Holy Names University is among the first private universities in the United States offering an EAP. For more information about this program, contact Tammy Dain, 510-436-1368 or dain@hnu.edu or visit http://www.hnu.edu/admissions/earlyAdmit.html.


HNU is located on sixty acres in the Oakland Hills at Highway 13 and Redwood Road. Founded in 1868, HNU is a co-educational institution offering more than 25 bachelor’s and master’s degrees and various certificates and credentials.

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